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Current: Solveig Fishing

Sunday 17 December Solveig Fiske is inaugurated as new bishop in Hamar by Rosemarie Køhn. The spirit of Rose must be continued in the liberal diocese.


What qualifies you for the important job of bishop? – I have a broad church experience. I have been a priest since 1982, held leadership positions in the church, and I have also been a human resources manager.

With your marriage ceremony there are still three female bishops in Norway. Why is it important for female bishops?

- It is important that both sexes are represented at all levels in society, including the church. I have been interested in this for a very long time. Both sexes in the church take care of an important idea that equality should be expressed through equality at all levels in the church. At the same time, it is central for everyone to be able to identify with the church.

You are considering quoting women for management positions. That's what the other two female bishops are skeptical about. Why is quoting correct?

- It is necessary to achieve equality. Gender is a criterion in line with other characteristics.

Are you too radical for women's quotas?

- It depends on the situation. The reason why we do not have more women in leading positions today is probably due to the culture. Men often choose other men. Some women also refuse to take such jobs, as they can be difficult to combine with family life.

Rose's spirit is carried on in the liberal Hamar with Fish as a new bishop, it is said. What does liberal mean to you?

- I'm not that fond of labels. But for me, a liberal church is the same as an open people's church that has no additional requirements for membership. I am interested in an open and generous church. I must follow in Rose's footsteps, but I can not be Rose. She is a historical figure, as the first female bishop in the Nordic countries. I must be the bishop I can be from who I am.

Supporters of innovative thinking and an open public church will call Rose and you brave, because you oppose the church's conservative powers. But how brave is it to actually follow the majority of the Norwegian people?

- I have not said that I am brave, although I was probably a little brave when I talked about gay rights at the Synod in its time. It is important for me to profile an open church. The gospel is liberating. In our day, it is also brave to focus on poverty. Poverty reduction is about drying up. We must create a society with a human face. There are so many demands today on productivity, efficiency and freshness, that create losers.

The Bible is relatively clear on what Christianity thinks about gay living. What do you mean?

- Our task is to interpret the Bible based on a basic ethical thinking, and show what is sustainable today. All rules of cohabitation must be seen in the light of the time we live in.

Want to marry gay cohabiting priests?

- Yes, I also want to work for partnerships and marriages to be equated. Not only legally, but also so that partnerships can be entered into in the church.

The sin concept is central to Christianity. What is a pity for you?

- It's a shame to offend other people. And then I do not just mean that every single person must take responsibility for not offending people around them. Nor must society and structures offend or oppress people or groups.

But living in gay cohabitation is not a shame?

- No.

Infidelity then?

- Yes, then you offend another human being. But if the new bishop of Hamar is to be quoted as saying that infidelity is a sin, then you are planning a condemnation that I do not want to be a part of.

Why do you want to keep the state church?

- The scheme we have today helps to legitimize religion's important place in society, and I am very happy about that.

You mean it's the place of Christianity?

- No, not just Christianity. But it is the dominant view of life in Norway. By having a state church, we are made aware that faith and outlook on life are important aspects of life.

What is it that makes you not trust that you and your peers in the Church manage to maintain the ceiling without the help of politicians?

- I have not said that I do not trust that we will manage it. But I believe that democracy in the church must be strengthened first. Furthermore, I am concerned that if there is a new arrangement in the relationship between state and church, then there must be no additional requirements for membership beyond being baptized.

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